Industry Insights

The Monetary Authority of Singapore is encouraging employers to rethink business priorities

Posted on 19/04/2021 by Paula Formantes


Has the pandemic shifted your business priorities? The Monetary of Singapore (MAS) is hoping that employers will sustain progressive practices like prioritizing employee experience, increasing flexibility, and using technology to streamline operations in the post-crisis world.

A study jointly commissioned by MAS and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) found that those practices can help banks ‘future proof’ their workplaces and prep the organization for the next pandemic. MAS compiled some best practices and is offering them as a guide to help organizations build resilience.

Some suggested practices include:

  • Strengthening systems to allow functions like HR, IT, and facilities management to respond quickly during a crisis
  • Improving office design to allow greater flexibility
  • Tapping on tech to enhance employee experience
  • Creating a ‘proactive’ business resilience plan or BCP
  • Decentralizing workplace locations from the CBD to avoid crowding issues
  • Reassessing ‘must-have’ and ‘good-to-have' initiatives when designing future workspaces

Banks in Singapore have adapted their operations quickly over the past year to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the longer-term impact of the pandemic on social behaviours and workplace norms is not yet fully known and understood.

The five-month study was done in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary team of experts to ensure proper consult on issues like managing infectious diseases and the workplace health of safety. This included healthcare professionals like Prof. Tan Chorh Chuan, a chief health scientist at the Ministry of Health, and Adj. Asst. Prof. Kalisvar Marimuthu, senior consultant at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.

Also, workplace design experts from the Building and Construction Authority and Workplace Safety and Health Council, as well as NUS dean of School of Design and Environment, Prof. Lam Khee Poh.

While it is not intended to be a set of policy guidelines, the study aims to guide banks in their forward planning for a safe and resilient work environment, said Tsien.

Mitigating risks in remote work

In addition to the guide, MAS and ABS had issued earlier this month a study on managing new risks in the remote world of work and how financial institutions can mitigate them. It also examined the impact on people and culture that may be brought about by remote working.

They listed possible risks in the areas of operations, technology and information security, fraud and staff misconduct, and legal and regulatory risks. MAS advised firms to continually review and ‘enhance their risk management practices to address evolving risks’.

“Over the years, banks have invested consistently and significantly in risk management and technology,” Tsien said in a separate statement. “The investments have enabled the industry to quickly and effectively respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and ensure that banking services are not disrupted during the crisis.

“Where their roles permitted, banks have made arrangements to facilitate their employees to work from home in a safe and secured environment and allowed the continued provision of services that our customers needed.

The good practices captured in the paper will serve as a valuable reference guide to all banks as remote and flexible work arrangements continue to be adopted as the pandemic evolves.

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